Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2011

January 1st, my tradition

Strangely, this post feels almost like a dream. Two years ago on January 1st 2010, I decided I wanted to write a book. I had this idea that wouldn't die down and for some reason (that had nothing to do with silly New Year's resolutions) I decided to write. Looking back, I made all the mistakes. The novel began with a dream, was littered with adverbs, and etc. I thought I knew more than I did. I thought the writing thing would be easy. And many rejections later, I realized I had a lot to learn.

Fast forward to November 2010, I had another idea. A great idea. And so I started writing, but I didn't have the time to dedicate much. So to keep my tradition (and b/c December is crazy), on January 1st 2011, I started with a blank document and dove into that great idea again. This time, it took. This time I couldn't stop writing. That novel was GRAVITY. I can't tell you how crazy it is that a year ago GRAVITY was just a thought, and now it's going to be published. I can&…

Waiting on Wednesday Awesomeness

++++++++++++++++++++Title: THE VANISHING GAMEAuthor: Kate Kae MyersRelease Date: February 14th, 2012Blurb: (Pulled from Goodreads)Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at SealeHouse.But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on…

Waiting on Wednesday Awesomeness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. Here's mine: ++++++++++++++++++++Title:PERIGEE MOON
Author:Tara Fuller
Genre:Young Adult
Blurb:(Pulled from Goodreads)
.
After a horrific fire claims the life of her mother, seventeen year old Rowan Bliss finds herself in the miniscule town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. It’s here that she meets Alex, a deliciously mysterious boy who holds the key to unlocking her family’s dark secret.
.
As Rowan falls helplessly over the edge for Alex, the secrets that he insists on keeping refuse to be contained, and the truth that she uncovers challenges everything she has ever believed. Alex is a witch. And now he’s awakened something within her she never even knew existed. But out of all of this, the one thing Rowan won’t accept is the fact that Alex is destined…

WoW Winner!

Sooo...remember my WoW INSURGENT pre-order contest? Well, I have a winner! I did the random drawing thing. And the winner is...
.
Rain Laaman . Yay! Congrats! Please watch out for my email so we can firm up the details. Thanks so much to everyone that participated. This was so much fun that I'm going to work up a monthly WoW giveaway. So make sure to check in, say hi, and watchout for awesome things to come in 2012. . Happy Holidays!

Why I write (and read) YA

. So yesterday I was thinking about why I write (and read) YA and came to a really embarrassing conclusion. Do you remember when you were in high school and had your first real crush? Do you remember how it felt like the entire world was spinning when he (or she) would talk to you? Do you remember the intensity of your first kiss? . That’s why I write YA and why I love reading it. I get that same tingly feeling when I write (or read) one of those scenes. It’s addicting. I love recreating the amaziness, awkwardness, and general craziness of being a teen.

Waiting on Wednesday + CONTEST!

I'm jumping on the super cool WoW trend, but in the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to make it a bit more fun with a contest!
.
So here's how this will work--below you'll find my WoW pick. All you have to do is comment (including your email) and follow my blog for a chance to win a pre-ordered copy. Not interested in this book? Then if you're the winner, you can choose any single book on Amazon to swap out for this one. Don't want a book? Then I'll offer a 10 page (or 1st chapter) critique to the winner. Simple, right? Now to my pick.
.
*************************************************************************
.
I love, love, loved DIVERGENT, so for my first ever WoW I decided to go with...
.
.
Title: INSURGENT
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Dystopian
What's it about, Fred?: (Pulled from Goodreads)
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying t…

Let's talk about over writing

It's tough for us writers, don't you think? We have a zillion words we're not supposed to use, including an entire segment of the language called adverbs (which I do use, btw). Then we're told that our writing should flow, yet not turn purple. Keep it tight, but not choppy. How are we ever to get it right? . Here's my 2c. The most important thing in writing is that the narrative flows. We work on making sure dialogue reads naturally, so why not the same for the narrative? I think that's the secret. Our novels, especially if written in 1st, should sound like your MC is talking to the reader. . Now, would a person actually say every line the way you've written it? Of course not. There has to be balance between beautiful lines and lines that move the story. And if we focus too hard on making every line beautiful, then what happens? Over writing. Author talk. We don't have to prove we can write by making a line beautiful. We prove we can write by telling an…

What writing strength do you want for Christmas?

Let’s pretend Santa could bring you a writing strength for Christmas. What would you ask for? And what author do you feel has that strength?

For me, it would be world building. Those of you that have followed my blog for a while know I struggle with this more than anything. I write fast-paced, tight stories. You’ll find fight scenes, high tension, kissing scenes, and etc. in my novels. Long drawn out bits of description? Not so much. I have to force myself to weave in all the little details during revision that strengthen my world. I wish it came more naturally, but I’m not that lucky.

As for the authors that do this well, for YA I think Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Clare, and Elizabeth C. Bunce are all wonderful world builders. And then, of course, Tolkien is the master.

What about you? What writing strength do you want for Christmas?



Never forgetting to enjoy reading

Sorry for the blog delay. I've been in serious edit mode so I could turn in GRAVITY to my awesome editor this week. *Breathes easier* And if you’re interested in adding it to your TBR list, you can click this little link and add it to your Goodreads list. No pressure. ;o)

Now in addition to the hair-pulling edits, I've also been storing up books to read as soon as I turn in these edits. I started perusing the list today and realized something. I tend to organize my TBR list by "fun books" that I could careless about the writing and then "educational, why-the-hell-can't-I-write-like-that books." I thought that was a bit odd, until I realized why.

See, at heart, I am always going to be a reader first. I love reading, and I don't have to appreciate the writing to enjoy a good story. I think this is important for us as writers. If we start analyzing every single book we read, comparing the writing to ours, or even *gasp* putting down the writing/book/au…

Do you have a "go-to" song?

I have found that with each project I have a "go-to" song that becomes my theme song for the book. For my first novel, called SECOND SOUL, which was loosely about a boy who learns his father is possessed by a powerful demon and to save Heaven from the demon he has to kill his father. Well the demon ends up slipping from his father and into the boy's girlfriend. The book ends with the MC, a boy named John, looking into the Fall of Man (a fortune telling waterfall within Heaven) and seeing his girlfriend bearing the tell-tale white scar of the demon he thought he had killed when he murdered his father. So of course, my theme song was Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.

Now, that book was my practice novel so it'll never live outside of my computer. But it started a ritual for me--every novel must have a theme song. It's my "go-to" song for the book that no matter what brings me back into the story.

For GRAVITY, my song is this:



So tell me, do you have a "go-t…

Friday Factual: Our quirks=character quirks

So you know how you often remember a particular character's tics or quirks? Well, I'm here to tell you that you have weird quirks, too. Don't believe me? Ask your husband or wife or sister or mother. They'll tell you. I thought it may be fun to disclose a few, so here goes.

Quirkies about me that I could work into a character:

I kind of think, especially when I have the music really loud, that I sing exactly like Lady Gaga. I know! It IS cool. :)I really dislike wearing the same pair of shoes the next season, which is totally stupid, but still it bothers me. I’m pretty sure this means I have some serious form of OCD. Yeah...I'm okay with that. I was a make-up artist all through college, training with lots of different people. So now, when I meet someone for the first time I often think about how I would do her makeup. Of course, I would never tell the person I’m thinking this, but sometimes it takes all of me not to scream—“Violet eyeliner would look amazing with you…

Writing style and avoiding imitation

I’ve been reading Laini Taylor’s fantastic DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. It’s a delicious novel full of everything a reader/writer loves—well-developed characters, a fully imagined world, and rich, beautiful language. I adore this book and I'm only a few chapters in. If I weren’t under
deadline, I would have already finished it. It’s that good.

But reading it got me thinking about style. See, I tend to analyze what I read, especially if I love a novel, in hopes of learning a thing or two from those that I admire. I’ve been told my writing reads slightly lyrical, and while I would describe Laini’s writing as lyrical, I recognize immediately that our styles are very different. (Now, let’s take out of the equation that Laini Taylor may be a genius and I certainly am not.) She has sentences that are as long as some of my paragraphs. But it works for her, and it works for this novel.

And I think that’s the point. As writers, we have to find our own style and our own way of conveying our sto…

What book would you like made into film?

Sure, we all know plenty of bestsellers that are either being made into movies or optioned. Some of them would make fantastic movies, but what I'm curious about is which books that you've read and loved do you feel would make great films? I'll admit, I only have one adult title on my list. Why? I rarely read adult work, though that is about to change so expect this list to prosper over the next few months. :) . Any who, here's my list: THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah WatersANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie PerkinsTYGER TYGER by Kersten HamiltonTOUCH by Jus Accardo (Just read this one so it's fresh in my mind.)STARCROSSED by Elizabeth C. Bunce What about you? What would like to see on the big screen?
~ Melissa

Revision madness for a pantser

I'm a pantser. It's important for me to say that upfront. My best ideas come during the writing process when I zone out and just start writing. I type sickly fast, so often I'm typing way faster than I can think through what I've written. Hence the need for revision. But I've found revision to be the most difficult part for me as a writer and I believe that's because I'm a pantser. It goes against the grain. So I've created a method that helps me to revise quickly, but to also maintain my pantser roots. See what you think. . First: I prefer to write and revise chronologically. This means that when I receive edits from my editor, I map them out based upon which Act and chapter the scene resides. If the edit is something more basic like "need to ground the reader" or "more worldbuilding" or "need to introduce Joe earlier," then I make sure that change is implemented across several chapters. This allows the change to flow more …

What scares you?

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought it would be fun to unveil what scares us the most. And I'm not talking about death or taxes or whatever. I'm talking about the real stuff (or the pretend stuff if you want to think of it that way) that freaks you out. For me, it's simple--ghosts. Not like Casper-type ghosts. I'm talking about the kind that turn lights on and off, open cabinets, or show up only to children or pets. I'm talking about ghosts like these:


What about you? What haunts your nightmares?

Is writing on your stress list?

So today I was thinking about writing and how a lot of writers seem to write with one goal -- publication. That makes sense in certain ways. But what I realized after perusing many of the forums is that many writers do not seem especially happy about this pursuit. I find that to be a problem. Nothing in life is *always* fun. I get that. But really, we already have families, day jobs, etc. that keep us busy (and slightly insane). Why add something else to your stress list unless it brings you happiness? - Think about writing and what it adds to your life. Is it fulfilling? If so, enjoy writing and don't worry so much about the publication part of it. I know that's hard. I know we want that feeling of acceptance. It's high school all over again, isn't it? So how about we air out what is most frustrating about this process? Get it out of your system and then remember, you are doing something special by writing a book. You are taking it to the next level by educating yourse…

My journey to publication (Part 2)

Continuing with my story...

I sent Heather Howland (Managing Editor with Entangled) a query at like 9 p.m. one night. An hour later she requested the full. Two days later she requested a call. A week later I had a contract. A CONTRACT!! I spoke with Heather twice during this process and both calls were awesome. She "got" my book. She loved my book. Finally, I was dealing with someone who really understood what I put into this MS. It wasn’t enough for the book to be fiction. It had to have a merit of scientific theory behind my story. I researched to death to make sure everything from hyperspaces to blows to the gut read as realistically as possible.

Now of course, it wasn't all lollipops and candy canes. She wanted a deep revision, very, very deep. The kind of revision that makes certain writers run away, but not me. I agreed 100% with what she wanted from the book and made the decision that day that I would sign with Entangled.

Why? Because I get 40% of cover price for e-b…

My journey to publication (Part 1)

First, let me very proudly say that I have signed a 3-book deal with Entangled Publishing for my YA sci-fi/dystopian, GRAVITY. This is the PM announcement:

Melissa West's debut GRAVITY, the first book in a dystopian series in which the sixteen-year-old daughter of New America's top military commander must choose whether to believe her country's malicious depiction of the Ancients, or trust the alien she's fallen in love with and betray humankind, to Heather Howland at Entangled, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in Fall 2012 (World).

To say I am excited is an understatement. I am thrilled, shocked, proud, emotional, all those things and more. But the decision has not been an easy one. So let me unpack my journey. Sound okay? Prepare yourself, this is going to be a long one. I'll add in coffee breaks.

I started GRAVITY as a NaNo project (then titled TWISTED ROOT) last year, but was not able to commit the time to get very far into the draft. In Janua…

Dr. Oz and querying

So yesterday my sister texted me about the Dr. Ox--oops--Oz apple juice debacle.
I quickly googled it and read all about the issue. With a three year old, this sort of thing is very important. Though, I’m convinced that everything but bananas and water seems to cause cancer.

Well today I woke up to a response from the FDA stating Dr. Oz has no real basis for his claim. I’m not sure how I feel about either and I’m not sure I fully trust anything a government-run organization claims, but it did get me thinking about querying and how as writers we often believe whatever anyone else on the web says about an agent.

For example, there is a huge thread on the blue boards concerning speaking up about agents that are not so good. I love this sort of information as I have around twelve subs out right now and would love to know which are credible and which are not. However, I feel that we writers really need to do our homework before striking an agent off our list (or on the flip side, jumping up a…

Stepping back can inspire

Those of you who read my blog know that I went through a major agent-suggested rewrite of my latest novel. It was painful, I won't lie. And after I completed the revision and sent it to the agents waiting on it, I decided to take a break from writing. In fact, I decided to take a month off -- no querying, no writing, nothing. I felt just...exhausted. So my husband and I decided to take a trip to the very remote Cape San Blas. See photo below:
.

.
By the third day of the trip, I was itching to write. I have three ideas swimming in my mind, and I'm trying to decide which to invest in. The first is a YA thriller with sci-fi elements. The second is a YA dark magical realism. And the third is something of a YA spooky ghost story. I was prepared to take my time deciding and researching, but by giving myself the freedom to step away, I allowed my love of writing to resurface. Now I'm dying to dig in. I'm a fast writer--too fast at times--but I plan to write out a summary paragr…

Why I write YA...

Much delay in blogging thanks to a massive rewrite, but I am
now done. Woohoo!

So onto today’s post -- yesterday I was thinking about why I
write YA and came to a really embarrassing conclusion. Do you remember when you
were in high school and had your first real crush? Do you remember how it felt
like the entire world was spinning when he (or she) would talk to you? Do you
remember the intensity of your first kiss?

That’s why I write YA. I get that same tingly feeling when I
write one of these scenes. It’s addicting. I love recreating the amaziness,
awkwardness, and general craziness of being a teen.
So what do you write and why?

M.B.

Do you rise to the challenge?

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer! I am not a summer person, in fact I hate the heat. My DH and I were just talking about moving to Colorado or something. Though, my best friend lives in Boston and complains as much about the cold there as I do about the heat here. I find I want nothing but sweet tea and ice-cream during the summer, which sucks considering it's too hot to run outside -- well, you know, if I did that sort of thing.

Aside from the above rambles, I am knee deep in my revision of TR. I will say I expected the process to be quicker, but I learned something along the way. See, I have always avoided going a certain direction with this book. I knew that direction would be more work, and subconsciously told myself it would detract from my characters. But I realized that was my fear talking. This direction isn't easy. It's requiring me to really think through scenes, think through my character's reactions in those scenes. In short, it's HARD!

But the good…

Where do you get your ideas?

The other night I had a very vivid nightmare. I was in my bathroom with my husband, while a pack of zombies tried to plow through the door. Thankfully, I had air freshener handy and snatched it up as though it were a rifle. Somehow my air freshener weapon killed off the zombies. I woke with a start, convinced that the zombies were in my house. I told my husband about it the next day and he said, "You should write a book about that!"

Don't worry. I have no intention of writing a novel about zombie-killing air freshener. Though that may work for an MG. Hmmm....no just kidding. But this did get me thinking about how we come up with our ideas.

For TWISTED ROOT, there were two things that brought the idea together. First, my husband is obsessed with the Science channel and watches all of those alien shows. One such show had a theory that struck me as plausible. This was the first seed of an idea.

The second seed came a few weeks later. I was staring into my heavily wooded backya…

Ah, Revision, oh how I hate you...

Yes, indeed. I am not one of those people who adore revising. I have a zillion ideas in my head at any given moment, and all are itching to be written. That said, I definitely appreciate revision and what it does for my work. So I'm diving into another revision. Well, technically, I've already begun. I decided this weekend that I do not simply want to get an agent and become published. I want my debut novel to be great. I'm willing to put in the work to get it there, even if that requires 10 more revisions. (Though hopefully it doesn't.)

And here are the things I’m working on:


World -- clarifying things that are perhaps only clear in my head
Character -- making the ordinary both exceptional and unique
Pacing -- getting to the point quicker
So, I'll let you know when I've completed it. For now, wish me luck. I'll need it. :)

M.B.

Friday Father's Day Style

Today I thought I would dedicate my entry to my dad. My dad is actually my first reader. He reads my work before CPs, before betas, before editing a gazillion times. My dad then listens as I talk out plot issues, character issues, etc.

And then he does it all over again for each revision.

Then I begin querying and he gets to read a gazillion query letters, helps me analyze requests, etc. When my last book only garnered a few requests, he cheered me on. When this one hit double the number of requests with half as many queries sent, he talked to me daily asking for updates, getting as excited as I am with each request.

I am tremendously lucky to have such an amazing and supportive father. So this weekend, I say thanks to my dad and cheer him on as he dives into one of those life battles that we never wish for our parents.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

M.B.

Culturize me

* First, let me note that for some cosmic, freakish reason I am unable to respond to my posts. Yeah, Blogger hates me. If you have experienced this and have a fix please feel free to email me. But for those who have commented on my posts, please know that I have had fantastic responses...in my head...but still. :)

Now for today's post I want to talk about commercial versus literary fiction. Each has its charms. One is action-packed and fun, while the other has beautiful writing (albeit sometimes boring). I have read most of the greats, but have yet to really appreciate contemporary literary works. What about you? There are a few that I adore, but in general I prefer a tighter pacing than is traditionally found in literary fiction.

I'm hoping you can change my mind. Have you read a fantastic literary work recently? Care to share? Culturize me. (Yeah, that's my term for books that are supposed to make us think. Don't judge me.)

M.B.

Reading and Jealousy

Last week I read a book that I loved so much that I found myself envious of the writer's skills. Have you ever reacted in this way? It is certainly something we, as writers, face. Others are getting agents, deals, film and foreign rights. I get that form of jealousy and feel it is completely natural. I try to restrict myself from reading too much of that sort of thing. But getting jealous when reading something? Anyone ever experience such craziness?

Perhaps it's just me, but planted in that jealousy is also a desire to learn from the fantastic authors who have published before me and will no doubt publisher after me. So how about you--do you ever feel envious when reading?

M.B.

Query thoughts

I plan to get back to regularly scheduled programming next week. MWF schedule, all that jazz. But today I wanted to go over a few of my experiences in the query game. I'm no expert, but I have noticed a few trends.



Your query does not need to discuss your entire story. Honestly, the query should only detail the inciting incident.
The query letter should be very tight. Read it a zillion times, send it to betas, etc. Make sure the query letter is intriguing above all else. Don't worry about gimmicks. Just make sure it is very easy to read with simple sentences, and leaves the agent asking: "What?! That's it?! I need to know more!!!"
Query letter aside, your pages need to shine. Solid writing is expected, but in my experience, the second most important element to writing is pacing.
Stay ubber professional in all dealings, but realize they are people too.
When you start getting requests, like I know you will, be sure to send the correct version. I accidentally sent a …

Utterly T-talkative

Warning, this is not a writerly post...per se. Do you ever have moments that are outside your norm? Where you know exactly what to say and act, but are so caught off guard that your normal attitude/behavior goes right out the window?

I had that experience last night.

I'm used to dealing with executives, part of the day job. It is nothing for me to get a call or be on conference with the president or CEO of some major company. I know how to speak professionally and with thought.

Yet all that went out the window last night. I received a lovely call from a lovely person. I knew from the beginning that the first call should be all business. So perhaps it was that I had just washed off my make-up and still had a tinge of soap on my face. Or perhaps it was the toddler in the bath singing (DH was with her of course). Or perhaps it was sheer, utter, giddiness, but for whatever reason I became a talker. You know the kind. The ones that speak fast and with emotion and sound like they've ha…

Dear Future Self blogfest!

Dear Future Self,

First, let me apologize for making this journey hard on you. I’ve made all the mistakes. Writing the first book and thinking it rocked. Querying that book to hell, when I should have realized the next idea was better. Doubting myself to no end. But then I learned a few things about writing, checked my ego, and cranked out the next manuscript. What a good move, huh?

But all of that hard work taught me something that I hope you haven’t forgotten—writing is forever learning, forever striving to become better. Never think you’re “good enough,” be great. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, test other genres, and experience change. Enjoy the ride. You’ve earned it.

Lots of love to you,

Melissa

P.S. Can you respond? It would be a great relief to know when this dream finally comes true. No need for a specific date. The year will do just fine.

_____________________

Want to participate in this awesome blogfest? Check it out here.

Theme song!

So somehow the stars aligned and the awesome Katy Perry wrote a song that has become my theme song for TWISTED ROOT. Check it out:




M.B.

First look at Katniss

EW released their cover and insider scoop into Jennifer Lawrence and her role as Katniss. What do you think? She's prettier than I imagine Katniss to be, more feminine, etc. But overall I'm stoked. I can't wait for this movie to release!


M.B.

Do you know your style?

I have always considered my writing to be commercial verses literary. I write plot-driven stories and then try to infuse a more character-driven narrative to keep the reader sympathetic to my MC. I’m good with that. I never suggested or expected to be on the same planet as literary writers.

Yet…

A few of the agents reading my current MS prefer literary or literary bent. Does that mean my writing style has a slight literary bent? Or is it simply that they are requesting something outside their norm? Who knows, but it did get me thinking—do we know our style?

I think it's a more important element to our writing than we may guess. Agents definitely have preferences. Querying a sci-fi agent with a romance is almost certainly going to result in a form rejection. Why waste your time and theirs? But the same goes for querying a plot-driven story to an agent that hates plot-driven books. Analyzing your writing style beyond the genre may help focus in on the best agents for your work. Many ag…

Writer craziness a.k.a querying

It always amazes me how many things we writers can juggle--day jobs, families, other hobbies, whatever. Then add querying onto the list and craziness ensues.

I find querying to be a perfect mixture of over-the-top stress and over-the-top exhilaration. Rejections are going to happen. I would say most writers see 7-8 rejections for every 1 request. So is the business. But this post is to encourage you to keep going. Even if you have yet to get a request. Even if others are getting request upon request upon request. There is no magic formula to snagging an agent. I’m convinced it takes mastery of craft and a little bit of prayer.

So keep writing, keep perfecting, and pray—often.

And just so you all know, I am in the thick of the query game again. So far so good, but I know from experience to keep going. So, I began my newest project. I'm a writer, after all, and writers write.

M.B.

Thesaurus Talk: Race

I don't know about you, but my characters tend to "race" around everywhere. Sally raced to the car. John raced to her side. They raced into a hot embrace. You get the picture (though kidding on the last one). So today I'm being super selfish and listing synonyms for "race" as that is one of my overused verbs. What are some of yours?




_______________________________________________________

WORD: RACE
DEFINITION: To proceed quickly
SYNONYMS:
barrel, belt, blast, blaze, blow, bolt, breeze, careen, career, chase, course, dash, drive, fly, hare, hasten, hurl, hurtle, jet, jump, motor, nip, pelt, rocket, run, rush, rustle, scoot, scurry, scuttle, shoot, speed, step, tear, travel, trot, whirl, whisk, zip, zoom

_______________________________________________________



Have a great weekend!!

M.B.

Wasting time

So on Saturday I had this strange experience. I had absentmindedly forgotten to pick up egg dye (gasp!) and ended up going to two places to find it. Well my venture landed me at Rite Aid -- a drugstore of sorts for those of you outside the US. I'm standing there in line, tapping the box, while the woman in front of me argues over some buy-one-get-one offer on a pack of paper plates. By the time the manager agrees to give the lady the discount (just to get her out of the store I'm sure), 15 minutes had passed. FIFTEEN MINUTES. I would have gone elsewhere, but the egg dye in my hand was the last in the store and who knows if I would have found another box elsewhere. I stalk out of the store angry and frustrated that anyone would waste 15 minutes of their time on a $2 pack of paper plates.


But this tramatizing event got me thinking. What little things do we do during the day or week that detracts from the top, say, five most important things in our life? I often have people ask me…

DICTIONARY DAY with a little style

So today fellow hilarious blogger, Tyson, gave me the Stylish Blogger award. I decided to define an uncommon synonym of "stylish" to celebrate.

_______________________________

Word:MODISH

Definition: fashionable, stylish
Usage: She wore a modish strapless dress.

_______________________________


Now to the rules for the Stylish award. I have to list 7 things about myself and then suggest a few awesome bloggers. Here goes...


I am only 5'3, 110 lbs fully clothed and soaking wet, yet many of my co-workers refer to me as "intimidating." :) This makes me laugh every time.

I have weird knowledge of all things health and skincare.

I am a total t-shirt and jeans girl, but am crazy particular about said t-shirt and jeans. I own every color of JCrew v-neck T available and more pairs of skinny/straight jeans than any female should ever have.

I married my husband for many reasons, but the longer we've been together I realize how similar he is to my dad (who I adore in every wa…

Storytelling vs. Writing

Yesterday, I finished up a popular novel that I enjoyed for the storytelling, but realized early on that the writing wasn't stellar. All the traditional rules were broken, continuously. POV switches. Tense switches. Pages upon pages of backstory. Pages upon pages of dialogue. That sort of thing. But I still enjoyed the book because aside from the writerly things *we* writers notice, the author was a great storyteller.


I think there is a difference between good writing and good storytelling. I've read books where the writing was so beautiful that I had to re-read passages again and again. But by story end I had no idea what the story was about. Now, the true geniuses (like C.S. Lewis) are the ones who can do both.


How about you? Do you notice this difference and if so which do you prefer if you can only have one in a book -- captivating storytelling or beautiful writing?
M.B.



Thesaurus Talk: RUSH

Yep, it's Thesaurus Talk Time. But before I list the overused word, I want to caution against replacing basic words with fancy-barely-can-pronouce words. When you replace the overused word, the sentence should flow equally as well or better. If not, you may want to rework the sentence.
__________________________________________________

Overused word:
RUSH
Definition:
to cause to move or proceed fast or faster
Synonyms:
accelerate, bundle, fast-track, hasten, quicken, speed up, whisk
Related words:
drive, goad, propel, push, race, spur, stir, urge
__________________________________________________

How many revisions?

Sorry for the blog delay. Sick child causes all extras to stop. But tonight, with a much healthier child finally in bed, I finished my fifth revision of TWISTED ROOT. Oddly enough, I thought I only revised it twice, but doc name reads TwistedRoot.5. Hmm. And that's when I realized I revised the first half five times and the second only twice. Does anyone else do this? I find my writing improves as I near the end. Plus, midway through TR, I came to a halt, lost on how to finish. I had to plot out the end fully in order to continue, which perhaps resulted in a cleaner draft? I'm not sure, but I am soooo glad to be done. For now. M.B.

Dictionary Day: Choleric

Yesterday, I was a bit on the moody side and decided to find a synonym of moody for my dictionary word of the day. The reason? We often have moody characters, right? Now of course we should "show" instead of "tell" their moodiness, but assuming you've already done that and need a flashy adjective, then here you go.
__________________________________

CHOLERIC
TYPE: Adjective
DEFINITION: easily moved to often unreasonable or excessive anger
USAGE: Watch out for the choleric librarian. Sue forgot her books, and the crazy lib bit her head off.
__________________________________

Happy weekend, all!

M.B.

Hello, Subjectivity, how are you today?

Today I wanted to talk about a wall standing in front of unpublished writers. Her name is Subjectivity. And I'd say she looks something like this:


I sent a long (sorry again!) email to one of my CPs about this very thing last night. See, somehow my WIP became a finalist in a popular RWA contest. I nearly cried and definitely screamed. Well then I submitted the same thing for a critique and it was ripped apart. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a hard crit. But now I'm torn--do I fix all the issues? Fix only the issues that feel right to me? Ignore it? Tough thing to work through for sure.

But this is what I realized: subjectivity isn't just an agent/editor issue. No, subjectivity is something to consider with CPs and betas as well. This is why it's important to support your work. Love what you do and trust in your skills. I have a hard time with this, I'll admit, but I think it's vital for success in this business.

What do you think? Ever receive a crit that …

Insta-LOVE

I’ve grown a little obsessed with Goodreads lately. Some reviewers seem to love everything, while others hate everything. The logic behind many of the reviews can be fairly funny to read. One such topic for YA has been “insta-love.” The reviews define the term as two characters meet and 20 pages later they’re madly in love, willing to give up their lives for one another.

While I think 20 pages is likely quick for the word “love,” I do not think it is too quick for obsession. Why? Because that is teen love. I have a 14-year-old niece who has a different boyfriend all the time it seems. One such boyfriend “cheated” on her—meaning he went to a movie with another girl—and she said “it was really hard because we were together so long.” So I asked her how long and she responded: “three weeks.” Yep, it took three whole weeks for my young niece to fall for some boy.
I think it is very important to remember our true audience when writing for YA. We are not writing for the 30-year-old women who…

Writerly Wednesday: Memories

I just reread Hunger Games and noticed the most amazing thing: it is loaded with Katniss's memories. You can hardly read a page or two without Katniss remembering something, and in those memories we (the readers) grow more and more attached to her. For not killing Prim's cat Buttercup. For saving her family with edible dandelions. There are a million memories scattered through Hunger Games and each gives us insight into Katniss, as a person--well character. :) I sometimes forget.

Upon realizing this, I picked up a few of my favorite books--the ones that come up again and again in my mind. Almost all of them are laced with memories in the way HG is. Now, there are lots of books that accomplish characterization without memories. It can be done. But I’ve learned from this realization that truly deep, round, fleshed out characters remember their past when experiencing their present. I decided to test this with a few of my scenes in my WIP and bam! Suddenly the scene has a new dept…

Crits for Water

My awesome crit partner Laura, aka Lo, posted about an opportunity so generous it needs rementioning. As we have different followers, I'm stealing her post for today to spread the word.
Kat Brauer, YA writer and big-time blogger, is offering the following:

For every $1 you donate, I will crit 250 words of your MS. This includes line editing, if you’d like. So if your first chapter is 3000 words, donate US $12 to the mycharitywater campaign page [url to be added when the campaign opens]. I’ll contact you for the file. Kat-Crits can be requested AT ANY TIME during the campaign’s duration (March 31-June 30).
Unless this gets super awesome and busy, I promise to finish all crits within one week.
Once a week (possibly more), we will have special guest crits from other authors, agents, and editors! Here is the (ever incomplete) schedule of events and guest crits. These special guest crits follow a DIFFERENT DONATING AND CRITTING STRUCTURE from #1 and #2.
There will also be special, SUPE…

Thesaurus Talk: STEP

____________________________
STEP
Definition: to go on foot . Usage: I stepped across the street for a quick lunch at the new diner.
. Synonyms: ambulate, foot (it), hoof (it), leg (it), pad, step, traipse, tread .
Related Words: parade, promenade; march, pace, step out, stride, troop; power walk; hike, peregrinate, trek; amble, mosey, perambulate, ramble, saunter, stroll, wander; clump, stomp, stump, tramp, trample, tromp; footslog, plod, trudge; gimp, hobble, limp; mince, prance, pussyfoot, tiptoe; bounce, sashay, stalk, strut, swagger; falter, lumber, lurch, pound, scuff, shamble, shuffle, stagger, stumble, toddle, waddle; nip, tap, trip, trot
____________________________

POD vs. Offset -- what's the deal?

FIRST, MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! THERE IS A CRAZY CONTEST GOING ON AT YATOPIA FEATURING AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE OF ERIN MURPHY! GO, GO, GO! IT IS ALMOST FULL!!
_____________________________________________________________

Lately I’ve read a few forum posts surrounding small presses and the issue of POD printing—or print-on-demand. As I work in both, I thought I would explain some of the differences, addressing the concerns mentioned in these posts.

First, it is important to note that a typical POD press is not a tiny machine (aka laser printer) spitting out poor quality images. Most color machines can span the size of a room. See photo below:Second, technology on digital presses has advanced tremendously making black and white printing (the actual pages of your book) virtually identical to offset printing. We publish many books offset and digitally, utilizing whatever method will keep costs down for our customers. To the naked eye, there is no difference between the two, assuming the same paper st…

Dictionary Day!

Happy Friday all! We're continuing alphabetically with Dictionary Days. Today's letter is "B."

__________________________________ BEATIFIC TYPE: Adjective DEFINITION: Having a blissful appearance. USAGE: Gretchen flashes a beatific smile. __________________________________ . I'll for sure use this one as my characters tend to smile A LOT! What about you? Do you have overly-smiley characters or frowners? I'll try to find a "C" word that means grimace or frown or something for next week so you have words readily available. . Have a fantastic weekend! . M.B.

Wednesday Writing Topic: Aliens

So my post on Monday hinted at my WIP involving aliens and being a few raised their eyebrows I thought it would be interesting to discuss just that: aliens.

There are loads of theories on aliens ranging from creepy to friendly, but one such newer theory has brought on a lot of interest lately by experts. First let me say, this is not the theory my WIP surrounds, which for reasons of not divulging too much I'll keep that a secret. But I will say the theme comes from a combination of potential fact and fiction--which is what I try to bring to all my stories.

Now on to today's theory: Aliens in the moon.

What?! You scream. Yes, I know, but there are some interesting elements of our history that suggest the possibility. First, the last moon landing was on December 17, 1972. Why? Why when technology advances continue to soar did we stop landing on the moon? Some researchers believe it is because we were told to not come back. Hmm...I'm not sure. But a few astronauts have publicly …

Alien beings around us?

(Warning – this post sounds more interesting than I intend it.)

See, yesterday I read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY for the first time. It is a thought-provoking, amazing read. Definitely read it if you haven’t. The story is very much about a misunderstood girl and how these sorts of misunderstandings can shape our lives, sending us in all kinds of directions. While the book conjured lots of different emotions and thoughts, one hung with me and became the motivation for today’s post.

I had a conversation with someone (to be kept anonymous) regarding humanity and how we determine other’s worth—for our time, our thoughts, and sometimes even their worth as humans—based upon how similarly they are to us. This is a hard statement, I know. I’m sure you’re sitting in front of your laptop shaking your head. “Nah-ah, not me.” Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re open-minded enough to never go through your day, week, and year discounting others. But probably not.

Most of us never mean to do this. But how often…

Thesaurus Talk

Today I decided to do a word cloud for the first 100 pages of my WIP and choose the most overused word -- aka biggest word in the cloud -- for today's Thesaurus Talk. Please note that I am using thesaurus.com for these posts. That site rocks so definitely check it out if you are struggling to find word options. You can also enter phrases into the search option and it will return single words that mean the same. Hello tightening!
Prayers and thoughts to all our friends in Japan.

M.B.

______________________________________
WORD:
KNOW
PART OF SPEECH: verb
DEFINITION: understand information
SYNONYMS: apperceive, appreciate, apprehend, be acquainted, be cognizant, be conversant in, be informed, be learned, be master of, be read, be schooled, be versed, cognize, comprehend, differentiate, discern, discriminate, distinguish, experience, fathom, feel certain, get the idea, grasp, have, have down pat, have information, have knowledge of, keep up on, ken, learn, notice, on top of, perceive, prize,…

THE END

So yesterday I typed this out, saved it, and forgot to actually post. Oops! Here's yesterday's post, pretend it's still Wednesday for me. :)_____________________________________________________________

The. End.

Aren't those the most magical words a writer can type? The moment I type in those two small words, a giant smile spreads across my face. For me the joy is in the completion. I have now competed two full length novels. The first one produced all those gooey, "I rock" feelings, but this one is so much more. Writing is hard. And frankly, I wasn't sure I had the bandwidth to sustain the writing thing.

Novel two proved to me that I do.

Now of course there are revisions, and I'm a perfectionist so the revisions will not be easy. But for now, I will enjoy the fact that I have completed my second novel.

What have I learned about myself as a writer?

It takes me 3 months to produce a first draft. I write romance scenes better than action scenes. With my first…

Reporting in and need your opinion

So last Monday I proclaimed that I would have my WIP complete by today. Well, unfortunately that didn't happen, but I am VERY close--only 2-3 chapters left. Which is why I chose this photo for today. I can see the finish line, but I'm not there yet. Hopefully my Wednesday post will declare completion.

And then revisions begin. I realized halfway through that I wanted to go a different direction in a pretty important subplot. I made notes throughout the first half and so now I have to correct those issues. Once those are complete that draft will be draft 2 (though technically draft 4 as I've revised a bit already).

But I need opinions on something. I plan to revise wide and zoom in, likely ending with 6 drafts before I would consider the WIP polished. I will probably send the full to my CPs and betas once the draft 2 mentioned above is complete. Okay, now on to the question. I'm considering having a freelance editor read the final version prior to submission.

Is that wi…